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Peterson Goodwyn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peterson Goodwyn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 19th congressional district
In office
March 4, 1813 – February 21, 1818
Preceded byEdwin Gray
Succeeded byJohn Pegram
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 18th congressional district
In office
March 4, 1803 – March 3, 1813
Preceded byPhilip R. Thompson
Succeeded byThomas Gholson, Jr.
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Dinwiddie County
In office
November 8, 1796 – December 5, 1802
Serving with Alexander McRae, John Pegram Jr., William Hardaway
Preceded byDrury Jones
Succeeded byJoseph Goodwyn
In office
October 19, 1789 – November 9, 1795
Serving with Robert Bolling, Drury Jones, Alexander McRae
Preceded byGeorge Pegram
Succeeded byDrury Jones
Personal details
Born1745 (1745)
near Petersburg, Virginia Colony, British America
DiedFebruary 21, 1818(1818-02-21) (aged 72–73)
Dinwiddie County, Virginia, U.S.
Resting placeSweden Cemetery, Sutherland, Dinwiddie County, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Peterson (1757-1817)
ChildrenAlbert Thweat Goodwyn, Edward Osborne Goodwyn, Peterson Goodwyn and 4 daughters
ParentsJoseph Goodwyn, Mary Thweatt
Occupationlawyer, planter, politician

Peterson Goodwyn (1745 – February 21, 1818) was an American planter, lawyer, soldier and politician from Virginia.[1] He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1803 until his death in 1818.

Early and family life

Born at his father's plantation "Martins" near Petersburg in the Colony of Virginia to Joseph Goodwyn (1720-1799) and his wife the former Martha Thweatt, Goodwyn had at least 11 siblings, including a brother Joseph Goodwyn Jr. who also served in the American Revolutionary War and Dr. William Boswell Goodwyn who practiced in Southampton and whose son and grandson (both William S. Goodwyn) would serve as the Commonwealth attorney and later judge of Greensville County (on a railroad line linking Petersburg with North Carolina).[2] Educated by private tutors as a child, Peterson Goodwyn later read law. He married Elizabeth Peterson Goodwyn (1757-1817) who bore at least three sons and four daughters.


Goodwyn became a planter and named his plantation "Sweden". He also was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1776, and began his legal practice in Petersburg and surrounding areas.

Military service

During the Revolutionary War, Goodwyn equipped his own company of Virginia militia and rose through the ranks from captain to major. He was promoted to colonel for gallantry at the Battles of Smithfield and Great Bridge, both in Virginia. After the war, he joined the Society of the Cincinnati.

Political career

Voters in Dinwiddie County elected him multiple times as one of their two representatives in of the Virginia House of Delegates (a part-time position). Goodwyn served from 1789 to 1802, except in the 1795-1796 session, when Drury Jones and Alexander McRae, both of whom he had served alongside, became the county's two representatives.

Voters elected Goodwyn as a Democratic-Republican to the United States House of Representatives in 1802. Re-elected numerous times, he served in the 8th through 15th congresses (1813-1818) and died in office. During the War of 1812, his son Edward Osborne Goodwyn (1776-1841) served as a Captain. His district was originally Virginia's 18th congressional district and after the 1810 census became Virginia's 19th congressional district, although neither district has existed since the 1840s due to Virginia's relative decline as the western states grew.

Death and legacy

On February 21, 1818, a year after the death of his wife Elizabeth, Peterson Goodwyn died at his estate "Sweden" in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. He was interred in the family cemetery on the estate. Goodwyn also has a cenotaph at Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C..[3]

In the 1830 U.S. Federal Census, his son Peterson Goodwyn (1802-1838) had a household which included 6 additional white persons and owned 63 enslaved persons; the county at the time included 1048 free white males, 2372 male slaves and 2309 female slaves, as well as 332 free colored persons.[4] In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census his grandson Dr. John P. Goodwyn owned 15 enslaved persons; his holdings in 1850 are listed on a Virginia census not available online. In 1850 Edward "A." Goodwyn owned 20 enslaved persons, and William H. Goodwyn considerably more[5]

By 1835, a post office on the stage road in southern Dinwiddie County was called Goodwynsville, which still existed in 1892. A descendant of the same name, Peterson M. Goodwyn, served in the 12th Virginia Infantry during the American Civil War. However, even the tavern which once stood at Goodwynsville has disappeared; after the Civil War, a railroad linked Petersburg to North Carolina through Dinwiddie County, which led to the development of McKinney, Virginia but Goodwynsville languished.[6] The wooden plantation house that Goodwyn called "Sweden" was near collapse by 1900. The nearest town is Sutherland, Virginia, which was the site of a Confederate defeat on April 2, 1865 which led to disruption of the South Side Railroad, the last Confederate supply line in the closing days of the Appomattox Campaign that ended the American Civil War. A chimney, stone foundation and graveyard existed about a mile past the intersection of county roads 613 and 631.[7] Patrick Magruder (1768-1819) who married Goodwyn's daughter Martha (-1816) and served one term in Congress from Maryland (1805-1807) before becoming both clerk of the House of Representatives and the Second Librarian of Congress until retiring for health reasons in 1815 is also buried in the family graveyard.

See also


  1. ^ CongBio No.G000306
  2. ^ "William Samuel Goodwyn", Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Vol. 5, p. 734
  3. ^ Find a Grave No. 12737968
  4. ^ 1830 U.S. Federal Census for Virginia, Greensville
  5. ^ Peterson Goodwyn died before the 1840 census and his six children are not named; Edwin O. Goodwyn died in 1841. The list of William H. Goodwyn's slaves in 1850 extends over a page which enumerated 35 people by race and gender and probably included the next page where the count grew to as many as 117 enslaved persons
  6. ^ 3north architects, A Survey of Historic Architecture in Dinwiddie County, pp. 45, 58, 71 (2010) available at
  7. ^ Old Homes of Dinwiddie in
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Philip R. Thompson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 18th congressional district

March 4, 1803 – March 4, 1813 (obsolete district)
Succeeded by
Thomas Gholson, Jr.
Preceded by
Edwin Gray
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 19th congressional district

March 4, 1813 – February 21, 1818 (obsolete district)
Succeeded by
John Pegram
This page was last edited on 28 November 2020, at 03:27
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